Kelis' Food finds the incredible voice return to the humble beginnings that Got Your Money and Kaleidoscope deservedly fast tracked. The Le Cordon Bleu graduate's cuisine-themed 6th album was recorded with Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio, released by iconic indie Ninja Tune and launched with a pop-up food truck at SXSW, which dolled out duck confit sliders and jerk ribs. Deliciously rich with vulnerable vocals, live horns, gospel organ and trip hop electronics, Food has the lingering presence of a classic soul and funk record, maintaining a modern touch. Ahead of her three date Australian tour, Kelis sent through a list of inspiring disco, lounge and RnB which we've jazzed into a running mixtape. She was kind enough to share some of her studio and kitchen experiences in our interview too.
What kind of role does music play in your life these days compared to the time of your first record?
MUSIC HAS ALWAYS PLAYED A VERY LARGE ROLE IN MY LIFE AS MY FATHER WAS A MUSICIAN. IN MY HOUSEHOLD MUSIC - JAZZ ESPECIALLY - WAS SUCH AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT IN MY LIFE. I WENT TO LAGUARDIA HIGH SCHOOL WHICH WAS A MUSIC AND ARTS SCHOOL SO PERFORMING WAS A VERY LARGE PART OF MY CHILDHOOD.
What kind of music do you like to listen to while preparing a meal?
USUALLY I LISTEN TO A LOT OF JAZZ. I'M A JAZZ BABY SO ANYTHING FROM ROBERTA FLACK TO NINA SIMONE, BILL WITHERS IS ANOTHER ONE OF MY FAVORITE ARTISTS. IN THE KITCHEN, I LIKE TO LISTEN TO MUSIC THAT I GREW UP WITH AND COMFORTING TO WHAT I HEARD AS A CHILD.
Are there parallels between the disciples of culinary art and music?
BOTH ARE VERY CREATIVE AND OBVIOUSLY VERY PERSONAL. IN MUSIC THERE IS A LOT OF EMOTION YOU CAN HEAR THROUGH THE BRASS, VOCALS AND INSTRUMENTATION. ALL OF THESE COMPONENTS ARE WHAT MAKE UP A TRACK. YOU CAN SAY THE SAME AS IN COOKING. THERE ARE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS THAT HELP CREATE A DISH. BOTH OF WHICH ARE A REFLECTION OF WHO I AM AS A PERSON.
How familiar were you with Dave Sitek's work before you started discussing working together?
I LOVED WORKING WITH DAVE AND OBVIOUSLY A BIG FAN OF TV ON THE RADIO. WE WERE FIRST INTRODUCED BY MY MANAGER WHO THOUGHT WE WOULD GET ALONG VERY WELL - SINCE WE ARE BOTH HOMEBODIES AND FROM THE SAME NEIGHBORHOOD. DAVE WAS REALLY GREAT TO WORK WITH BECAUSE HE JUST UNDERSTOOD THE MUSIC AND KNEW WHEN TO STEP BACK AND WHEN TO STEP IN.
Can you talk us through a typical day in the studio during the making of Food?
A TYPICAL DAY AT THE STUDIO USUALLY INVOLVED A BUNCH OF MUSICIANS ALL IN THE SAME ROOM AND FOOD. IN COOKING THE ITEMS THAT WERE LATER TRACK LISTED ON THE ALBUM, WE ORIGINALLY USED NAMES LIKE "JERK RIBS" AND "COBBLER" AS PLACE HOLDERS. AND WHEN IT CAME TO HANDING IN THE ALBUM, I JUST DECIDED THAT IT FIT.
You're now signed to Ninja Tunes alongside artists like Bonobo, Neneh Cherry and Amon Tobin. I can imagine this being quite a departure from your major label past. Was the move motivated by a desire for artistic freedom?
NINJA TUNE HAS BEEN GREAT. I AM REALLY HAPPY WITH MY TEAM AND THE CREATIVE FREEDOM AND SUPPORT THAT THEY HAVE GIVEN ME. AT THE END OF THE DAY, I KNOW THAT IF I AM UP AT 2AM WORKING THEN USUALLY SOMEONE ELSE ON MY TEAM IS UP AS WELL WORKING TO PUT EVERYTHING IN PLACE.
Food is accompanied by sleeve art from Leif Podhajsky who designed both of our Tame Impala album covers. What attracted you to his work?
IN LOOKING AT THE VARIOUS ARTISTS THAT I HAD TO CHOOSE FROM, I REALLY LIKED LEIF'S PAST WORK. AND WHEN THE ALBUM COVER CAME IN, I FELL IN LOVE WITH THE USE OF THE 'FOOD' LETTERING AND CREATIVITY WITH THE TITLE.
Jazmine Sullivan - Dream Big
Diana Ross - Love Hangover
Evelyn "Champagne" King - Love Come Down
Alicia Myers - I Want to Thank You
Bill Withers - Lovely Day
Shuggie Otis - Inspiration Information
Josef Salvat - Every Night
Rhye - The Fall
Jamie Woon - Street
Zero 7 - Destiny
Bonnie Raitt - I Can't Make You Love Me
John Coltrane - My Favorite Things
Australian Tour Dates
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Magnolia, Milan, Italy
Zurich Open Air, Opfikon, Switzerland
Alhambra Lounge, Brisbane, Australia
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, Australia
Newtown Social Club, Sydney, Australia
Newtown Social Club, Sydney, Australia
Samsung Hall, Manila, Philippines
The Republik, Honolulu, HI
Danforth, Toronto, ON, Canada
Club Tulipe, Montreal, QC, Canada
930 Club, Washington, DC, USA
Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA, USA
Marathon Music Works, Nashville, TN, USA
Tipitina's, New Orleans, LA, USA
Fun Fun Fun Festival, Austin, TX, USA
Tricky Falls, El Paso, TX, USAView All Dates